Monday, August 31, 2009

Episode 147 - Lil

Season 7, Episode 147: Lil
Original Air Date: 10/2/78
Written by: Sheldon Bull

Directed by: Burt Metcalfe

The 4077th is visited for inspection by Col. Lillian Raeburn (Carmen Mathews), who is not your typical hard-nosed stickler for regulations: she's warm and friendly, and seems to take a shine to Col. Potter, who is the only one in camp around her same age. They've known a lot of the same people, and immediately fall into telling each other stories from their overlapping past.

With Hawkeye spending his time trying to find out what B.J.'s initials stand for (after an off-hand remark by Col. Raeburn), and Margaret in a tizzy trying to be perfect for the inspection, Col. Potter and Lil--as he comes to call her--spend all their time together, sharing a bottle of scotch and going on a picnic.

Radar is not pleased at this turn of events, feeling that this Col. Potter is acting improperly. Margaret, once she has a talk with Lil about her future in the Army, relaxes and recommits herself to a career in the military. They share their bi-polar feelings over some drinks in the Officers Club.

After a few more days like this, Col. Potter and Lil only grow closer. One night, in Lil's tent over some booze, she makes a move on Col. Potter. Potter is stunned into silence, and has to awkwardly explain that nothing like what Lil expects to happen is going to happen.

He apologizes, saying that maybe he sent Lil the wrong message being so friendly--but he was just so delighted to have someone of his own age to pal around with. But as long as he has a woman at home waiting for him...

Lil understands, and apologizes herself for misreading the situation. Awkwardly but friendly, they say good night, with Lil planning to leave for the next MASH the following morning.

The next morning, B.J., sick of Hawkeye's unyielding quest to find out his "real" name, gives it up: his parents were named Bea and Jay, hence, B.J. Hawkeye still isn't buying it.

Fun Facts: This episode is a nice showcase for Harry Morgan and guest star Carmen Mathews. So frequently on TV older people are not shown to have any sort of sexual desires, other than in the most coarse, jokey of terms. But the final scene between Potter and Lil is delicate and dignified.

Favorite Line: Hawkeye is determined to find out just what B.J. stand for, and asks to go through Radar's official personnel records. He asks where B.J.'s file is, and Radar says, "Officers in the front, enlisted men in the rear."

Hawkeye rifles through some papers, then asks, "Why are you in the front?"

Radar: "'Cause I do the filing."


What the Parrot Saw said...

"Lil" is a wonderful episode, yet again taking an idea which could have been mawkish or melodramatic and making it pay off in spades. Radar's reaction is exactly what we would expect; interestingly, while he misses the subtle emotions that Harry Morgan plays so well throughout (remember him telling Clete Roberts that he wished he had someone has own age to talk to?), Radar's instincts do prove correct insofar as Lil's attentions.

Lil herself is a terrific character- warm, and seasoned in a way that makes her interest in Sherm understandable and engaging.
Her scene with Margaret is evidence enough of this

Reading these commentaries and thinking about the series, I have come to realize that one of M*A*S*H's secret weapons had to have been the fully-formed characters who would appear in a single episode. More than a few you could imagine as semi-regular or even regular characters- which is after all how the series got Kilnger.

To be sure, most such characters were written simply as bit parts to forward the plot or were otherwise forgettable, but the batting average here was much higher than in a typical show. Consider characters such as Tommy ("Sometimes You Hear the Bullet"), Carlye ("The More I See You") or Steve Nussbuam ("Heal Thyself") among others... the actors and actresses were given enough screen time to establish themselves on their own terms. The characters were written with histories apart from 4077th that we could relate to, and with quirks that the actors or actresses could explore. Quite a feat.

Russell said...

FINALLY a 7th season episode that is not all about Hawkeye. This is a great episode, for all the reasons Rob and Parrot mention.

My favorite scene is when BJ explains his name. It makes perfect sense, and I always wonder if Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds were thinking that when they named him.

What the Parrot Saw said...

What's funny is that I thought that BJ had still dodged the issue re: his name... until the DVD came out with subtitles!

Maybe he's still lying! Ha ha...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...